At an AFP MegaCap roundtable discussion, we asked finance professionals, “What is your secret sauce for effective communication? Here’s what they said.
1. Prepare ahead.
I organize my thoughts, so I can demonstrate structured thinking and give the audience something to grab onto. At a minimum, I’ll scribble down the two to five ideas that I want to get across.
2. Know your goals.
Understand what you’re trying to get out of the meeting. What decision needs to be made? What actions are required?
3. Know your audience.
Finance can get very technical and caught up in the jargon and data. For example, if we’re presenting something to a sales leader and start talking about GAAP 606, we’ve lost the audience. They need to know the real business drivers that are impacting P&L.
4. Help people absorb in the manner that works best for them.
Some reading learners love bullet points. For visual learners, charts and graphics. For auditory learners, crisp statements.
5. Use the SCIAB framework to organize your thoughts.
SCIAB stands for Situation, Complication, Implication, Action, Benefit.
6. Ask the three whats: “What happened? So what? Now what?”
When giving background information, explain the impact on the business and what needs to be done about it, whether that’s a specific action or a decision.
7. Ask, “What financial statement line did it impact?”
Especially when the subject is time-critical, anchoring conversations to the relevant metric really clarifies conversations.
8. Take a last pass for brevity.
When I think I’m done, I look at my presentation one more time to see if I can cut even more words off the slide and instead have the conversation in the room.
9. Add warmth and humor.
Folks are in meetings all day, so mixing in a bit of humanity and laughter is very effective at getting engagement.
10. Have the confidence to say, “I don’t know.”
Or “we didn’t look at that.”Instead of spiraling and making things up, be honest when you don’t know something and offer to find the information afterward.
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